Donna Lea Merrill Blaise, of New Haven, VT, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, VT. She was 72. Donna Lea, as she was known to her family, was born in Plattsburgh, NY and raised in Hudson, NY. She was the daughter of the late Robert and Ruth Merrill.
She graduated from Hudson High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Vermont, where she was also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. After graduation from UVM, Donna Lea married Edward Blaise III, moved to Long Island, NY, and was hired as the first female national bank examiner in 1964. Several years later, she returned to Vermont to work at IBM in Essex Junction in a variety of job responsibilities, including management.
After working at IBM for over 28 years, she took an early retirement and went back to college to obtain her elementary education teaching degree from Johnson State College in Johnson. She became a familiar face to students and staff alike as a substitute teacher and tutor at the Beeman Elementary School in New Haven, Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury, and Weybridge Elementary School. She was totally devoted to her students and thoroughly enjoyed her second career as an educator.
Donna Lea was such an inspiration to her family. She had many friends and loved animals. She, however, didn’t suffer fools gladly.
She was an avid reader, gardener, watercolor artist, as well as an accomplished knitter, quilter, and a wonderful cook. She was a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women). She resided in the rural New Haven area for almost 45 years and valued her role as a member of the Development Review Board for the town of New Haven.
Donna Lea is survived by two sons; Edward Blaise IV and granddaughter, Vanessa, of Hinesburg, VT; and John, his wife, Aren, and grandson, Max, of Shelburne, VT, as well as her ex-husband, Edward Blaise III of Maine. She also leaves a brother, Sid, and his wife, Sue, of Greensboro, NC, a brother, Jim, of Ocala, FL, as well as three nieces, a grandniece, and a nephew.
There will be a memorial service to celebrate her life later this summer. Burial will be private. Donna Lea supported many local charities and in lieu of flowers, her family would appreciatecontributions being made to the charity of your own choosing.